Of Masks and Meds

On May 16, the CDC updated its guidance regarding mask-wearing: “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.” It goes on to list exceptions, including local regulations and businesses as well as workplace guidance. As someone who hates having had to wear a mask when entering businesses and other public buildings over the past year, I am thankful for this change. Last month I chose to become fully vaccinated primarily because of the increased freedom that I will soon have.

Whether to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is a choice, and I respect those who have chosen not to; in fact, I know some of them. Some have chosen not to because they have previously contracted COVID and thus have antibodies. In fact, there is plenty of research to suggest that people who have recovered from COVID are even better protected than people who have never had it but have been vaccinated. Other people have chosen not to because they want to wait for further research about side effects. The point is that becoming vaccinated or not should be a choice; there are those who have foolishly said, for example, that it’s “patriotic” to get the COVID vaccine, implying that it’s “unpatriotic” to refrain from getting it. There has also been talk about “vaccine passports.” It wasn’t that long ago that medically-based decisions were personal and thus private, but there are those who seem to think that this doesn’t apply to the COVID vaccines.

As mentioned earlier, I hate having had to wear a mask, and there are four reasons for this. First of all, having to remember to put it on when I am about to enter a public building has been annoying. Second, and more importantly, there were times last year when my wife and I were hiking in state parks, and masking was required. Breathing is more difficult when wearing a mask, especially when doing something more strenuous than walking in my neighborhood or shopping. As a result, I had my mask off most of the time and then quickly put it back on when other hikers were approaching. Third, I’ve gotten tired of muffled voices, which make it more difficult to understand others. For example, I love using ATMs, but last year I had to enter a bank to speak with a teller. It was very difficult to understand him, and he ended up making a mistake, which I later had to rectify by making an appointment and sitting down, masked of course, with another bank employee. Finally, does anyone besides me miss seeing faces when out and about? Thankfully, virtually everyone in my neighborhood goes maskless when outside, but in other contexts, I have sorely missed the non-verbal communication of facial expressions, especially smiles.

That said, I have complied with mask-wearing guidelines when in public buildings. I have also complied with them during a couple of outdoor get-togethers with brothers and sisters from my church. Speaking of: our church is about to reopen, and we have been discussing many details related to it. Not surprisingly, mask-wearing has been a hot topic. Parents of young children, who are not yet eligible for a vaccine, have been one concerned group. Another group has been the elderly; even though they have been vaccinated, some have expressed some fear; at the same time, they are the ones who are most eager to return to in-person worship. We have also discussed what to do if a visitor enters the church and is reluctant to wear a mask. As my wife and I discussed this, the biblical principle that came to mind is this one in Romans 14:13: “Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Similarly, I Corinthians 8:9 says, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” I think these verses clearly apply to our elderly brothers and sisters who have expressed fear because even though they have been vaccinated, they are at higher risk of hospitalization and death from COVID. However–and I give credit to my wife for this insight–I think it also applies to brothers or sisters who are reluctant to wear a mask at church. I think that the elderly should certainly be free to wear a mask, but also that those believers who are adamant about not wearing a mask should be free not to wear one. For the time being, I am willing to wear a mask at church, but I admit that I am not willing to do so forever!

I hope that as the reopening of the U.S. continues, people will be considerate of one another and not look down on those who choose to treat mask-wearing differently than they do. And especially for those of us who claim the name of Christ, I trust that we will be considerate of one another as well.

7 thoughts on “Of Masks and Meds

  1. Our church was open a while ago, with invitations going out for each service, so most of us could go to about 2/3 of the services. We were socially distanced and wore masks. Then it was open to everyone, and we all still wore masks. Two days ago was the first service in over a year where virtually everyone was there, masks off, smiles on, hugs, and full voiced, unmuffled singing. It was glorious! We have really learned to appreciate what most of us had been taking for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve been meeting online all this time, including our fellowship group, which has been true koinonia. Also, as I mentioned, we’ve had a couple of mostly masked get-togethers outdoors. However, I’m so looking forward to what you experienced two days ago. Thank you for that description of the progression, culminating in that glorious service!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of those issues that people are passionate about, and attitudes can get nasty too easily. Christ-followers could see this an another opportunity to stand out from the crowd, by being respectful to everyone we meet, whether masked or not.
    (I admit I have a hard time seeing masks on children. Pray for me to just keep my mouth shut and say a silent prayer.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve got that right, and I agree about being respectful to everyone we meet. We live in an area where things are more restrictive until mid-June, so that makes it easy for our church to follow those guidelines until then. After that is when things become less firm. The koinonia that I previously referred to makes it relatively easy for me to wear a mask for the time being when we resume in-person services, but as I mentioned in my post, not forever! I’ll pray for you as you requested, and you can do the same for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post Keith thank you for sharing this fresh, balanced, scripture based insight into this dilemma.

    I got my Vaccine along with all the many, many other Vaccines I’ve had during my military career and world travels.

    I fully agree with you in respecting those who choose not to take the Vaccine. I also can’t stand those who try to force people to take the Vaccine or work the opposite by trying to force people to not get the Vaccine…especially in the name of RELIGION.

    I recently posted a Blog calling out these false teachers who are no different than Religious Pharisees that place guilt and fear on weak Christians who may be undecided regarding the Vaccine. Especially insane is all this mark of the Beast silly talk among many fundamental religious groups.

    The post is called “Covid 19 Vaccine is not a BIBLICAL issue for me but maybe for thee Pharisee;” here’s the link:

    http://www.thethirdheaventraveler.com/2021/04/the-covid-19-vaccine-is-not-biblical.html

    For those who believe in attending a church building, especially a large gathering, your guidance is outstanding.

    Since I home church. in similar fashion to the underground churches I attended in Vietnam, and have found 501c3 brick and mortar buildings called churches run by apostate CEOs called pastors to be avoided, there is no doubt a remnant of solid believers who do attend a building operation that still stand true to God whom I respect. And I believe you’ve addressed the problem with solid solutions effectively.

    God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your reply, brother. Yes, I have previously read your post about the COVID vaccine. In our increasingly polarized world, it has become very difficult for people to be accepting of different viewpoints and choices. The vaccine is a prime example of something that Christians can make differing decisions about; whether to get it is not a Biblical issue.

      Liked by 1 person

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